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July 18, 2008

Live from Apple Store Sanlitun

Apple has joined the International retail presence in Beijing with their first Chinese Apple Store opening today. Without any other obligations on a Saturday morning, I decided to check out the scene at The Village at Sanlitun, near a popular Beijing nightlife hotspot.

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I arrived just an hour before the opening to about 350 Chinese and Westerners (I was number 349) in queue in front of the store. Apple has yet to penetrate the Chinese market, already flooded with fake iPods and iPhones, so I wasn’t surprised to see a significantly smaller crowd than at openings in the U.S. and other International cities.

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Employees began to hand out umbrellas to help keep customers cool during the hour-long wait. Beijingers use umbrellas to shelter themselves from rain and sun alike, so seeing dozens of umbrellas on a sunny morning is nothing out of the ordinary.

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The store opening comes just before tens of thousands of journalists and spectators visit Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. Apple Store Sanlitun will honor Apple’s International AppleCare warranty on products still covered in the U.S., and will provide Genius Bar, Personal Shopping and One to One training (798 CNY per year) to customers beginning today. All Apple products will be sold, with the exception of iPhones, which are not officially available in China. The store is located at The Village at Sanlitun, an upscale International shopping center still under construction.

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